Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Loitering" at controls


I came across this quote while following a discussion at Attackpoint:

Do you want to cut 10 minutes off your time at your next orienteering event? One of the easiest ways to do that is to improve your technique of approaching and leaving a control.


Remember, one key to improving your time in orienteering is to try to keep moving and keeping the hesitations and stops to a minimum. And if you do have to stop to figure out what to do, don't do it at the control! Be an orienteer, not a control loiterer.

The quote is from an article aimed at inexperienced orienteers.

This struck me because it is almost exactly the opposite of the advice I was giving people at the O' training camp a couple of weeks ago. I was pushing the idea that the easiest way to save time was to take safe routes and avoid booms. I was pushing the idea of looking systematically at different route choices - basically being careful to identify different routes and then judge them in terms of "safety." A consequence being that you might spend some time standing at a control before you got going. I guess I'd say it is better to "loiter" and use that time to be safe and, hopefully, avoid making big booms.

I guess it is a matter of how people learn. You could emphasize moving through controls rather than loitering or you could emphasize being systematic and careful. My thinking is that emphasizing the systematic approach means that, in the short run, you'll do some control loitering. But, in the long run, you'll develop the ability to quickly pick safe routes, which will result in shorter amounts of control loitering.

To me, the problem with the approach I've quoted above, is that it gets the orienteer thinking about something other than where they are and where they are going. Instead, they're thinking about where they are, where they are going, and not loitering. That's just one more thing to think about, which is one more thing to distract you from the more important parts of orienteering.

My thinking about orienteering is closer to this quote, which also showed up in the discussion on Attackpoint:

At the 2005 US champs in Bend, I attended a talk by Ted de St Croix in which he said that he rarely, if ever, looks ahead. He believes that anything you do on a course that distracts you from the task of finding your current control is a bad thing.

Enough rambling...time to start thinking about tonight's Kansas basketball game...

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:09 PM


You are spot on, when teaching orienteering it is essential to get the basics right, if you have a good basic technique and learn to execute your skills correctly and quickly then good control flow becomes natural.

It is a classic example of treating the symptoms rather than the root cause of the problem. If somebody has poor control flow you need to ask why and fix the underlying problems not just tell them to do it more quickly!
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